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Residents say no to wind farm; Turbines called an intrusion at meeting

DIXON – Mainstream Renewable Power wants to put up turbines in southwestern Lee County, but neighbors urge Lee County officials to reject the company’s proposal.

On Monday, the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals held its 25th hearing for the planned 53 turbines. Residents made their closing statements.

Pat Scully, who would live near the turbines, said no one has the right to reduce his home value.

“My house won’t be worth anything with a wind farm next to it,” he said. “There are a lot of people who don’t want [the wind turbines] to be our neighbors. If they want to come to our neighborhood, they should buy our neighborhood.”

Another resident, Robin Ackerson, also objected to the wind farm. She noted Mainstream’s project map indicated that her property was Recipient 37.

“Recipient of what?” she asked. “They’re not putting any turbines on our property, so I’m not receiving any money. Not that I want turbines. I will receive shadow flicker, noise and destruction of property value.”

Eight turbines, Ackerson said, would be within 1 mile of her property, closer to her home than those of the landowners who would allow them.

“I feel this is an intrusion. The noise is an intrusion,” Ackerson said. “You can hear leaves falling from my house. That’s why I live out there. If I have eight turbines near my home, the quiet I experience on a day-to-day basis will forever be destroyed.”

She likes to ride horses on her pasture, but she fears the shadow flicker from the turbines will scare the animals.

“There’s nothing more dangerous than a frightened horse,” Ackerson said.

For most of the 2 1/2-hour hearing, Bob Logan, Franklin Grove’s village president, had the floor. He criticized Lee County’s wind farm regulations as weak, saying the county had a history of letting the wind energy industry write the rules.

In 2006, he said, a company wrote the findings of fact for the zoning board before the panel approved the firm’s wind farm.

“The person who does the work wins the game,” he said.

Logan also questioned whether Mainstream would even operate the proposed turbines. The company hasn’t ruled out selling the wind farm, as it has done with others, including the Shady Oaks project, near Lee County’s Compton.

Logan referred to Mainstream’s many promises during the hearings, which he said meant little if the company sold the project to another firm.

“I have a problem when you do something of this magnitude when no one is really accountable,” he said.

More closing statements are scheduled for tonight and Wednesday night. The hearings began in July, but it’s unclear when the county will complete the process.

The zoning board will make a recommendation on the wind farm to the County Board, which has the final say.

Last summer, the Whiteside County Board approved nine turbines for the project, which includes three counties. Mainstream pulled its proposal for 19 turbines in Bureau County after the county’s zoning panel rejected it. The company plans to submit a new plan.

To attend

The Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals will meet at 7 p.m. today and Wednesday on the third floor of the Old Lee County Courthouse, 112 E. Second St. in Dixon. Each meeting is expected to last 2 ½ hours.

The board will resume its public hearing for Mainstream Renewable Power’s application for turbines in the southwestern area of the county.

For an agenda for this meeting, minutes and transcripts from past meetings, or more information, go to www.leecountyil.com or call 815-288-5676.